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@  Cooper : (23 May 2015 - 02:39 AM) If that was anyone but Dwight trailing we got an open three, I think harden just instinctively passed before he realized who it was then didn't have enough time left to get a fadeaway from the elbow that he likes and panicked a little. I'd take harden to make a play/get a decent shot up in that situation 9/10 times. It just didn't work out
@  Mario Peña : (23 May 2015 - 12:30 AM) I agree with you SadLakerFan. I don't believe a timeout would have been a good idea. Everything points to the decision that was made being the right one and just because the outcome was a failure doesn't mean it wasn't the best scenario.
@  SadLakerFan : (22 May 2015 - 04:01 PM) Gotta disagree. You would be taking the ball out of your best (by far) player's hands when the defense is on its heels. A timeout would allow the best defense in the NBA to prepare for the inbounds play - you might never even get it to Harden. As for Harden, I watched it again a few times - he's got to take that shot at 4.0 seconds. He'll learn. I see this as his coming out game. The whole nation knows how good he is now.
@  txtdo1411 : (22 May 2015 - 02:45 PM) Agreed Majik. It's hindsight and everything happened so quick, but that would have been huge. I also feel Harden takes that first stepback if Barnes didn't do that fly by from behind. Just an unfortunate ending to a great game. We'll get them back in Houston.
@  majik19 : (22 May 2015 - 02:21 PM) I feel like McHale or someone should have taken a timeout as soon as Harden got double-teamed. Then we could've drawn something up for him.
@  SadLakerFan : (22 May 2015 - 06:37 AM) McHale made the right call - no time out against the best 1/2 court defense in the NBA. In retrospect, you wish Harden had taken the step back.
@  Mario Peña : (22 May 2015 - 04:53 AM) The 5 always trails and always gets the ball as he crosses half court, I believe it was kind of a habit pass. Harden should have just decisively gone right initially and Ariza probably would have had an open corner three. Harden and co. are still learning.
@  cointurtlemoose : (22 May 2015 - 03:54 AM) Maybe it didn't register in the split-second decision that it was Howard trailing. If it's anyone other than Howard, one of Curry/Thompson peels off to cover the trailer, and Harden gets his one on one back
@  JY86er : (22 May 2015 - 03:41 AM) Oh well, Guys. We got 'em right where we want 'em now.
@  jorgeaam : (22 May 2015 - 03:40 AM) Oh boy, well, at least I like our chances to take both home games the way the Warriors are playing
@  jorgeaam : (22 May 2015 - 03:39 AM) Why didn't Harden call a timeout instead of passing it to Howard on the 3 point line?
@  cointurtlemoose : (22 May 2015 - 03:38 AM) Heartbreaking last couple seconds...
@  jorgeaam : (22 May 2015 - 03:36 AM) WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED
@  jorgeaam : (22 May 2015 - 03:35 AM) Let's go rockets!
@  Cooper : (22 May 2015 - 03:34 AM) Harden and Howard are just incredible
@  jorgeaam : (22 May 2015 - 03:32 AM) Wow
@  Cooper : (22 May 2015 - 02:45 AM) nick johnson sighting?
@  jorgeaam : (22 May 2015 - 02:29 AM) Rockets quieting the crowd
@  cointurtlemoose : (22 May 2015 - 02:16 AM) It is pretty crazy to be tied at this point. Harden single-handedly gave us a reset button for this game
@  jorgeaam : (22 May 2015 - 02:11 AM) Rockets are missing 2 starters, Dwight is playing with a bad knee, and yet they've kept both games quite close so far against a team that finished 67-15


Member Since 25 Sep 2012
Offline Last Active Apr 28 2015 01:56 AM

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In Topic: Houston Rockets 118, Dallas Mavericks 108: A team effort

21 April 2015 - 02:26 PM

Not really sure where that comment came from. Did the author actually hear in person the discussion betwee Hakeem the Dream and D12?

Why would I need to hear their conversation in person when quotes are abundantly publicly available?


Here's one: “We all know that center is the key position in the game,” Olajuwon said. “Everything should go through you — offense and defense and the right mentality. If the center is thinking about dominating, the team can go far, can go all the way."




There are several more, much more explicit about post dominance than that, if you want me to take the time to find them.  Hakeem's (and Barkley and Shaq, and any old-time big man) opinion that big men should dominate in the post to actually be dominant isn't exactly some new assertion made by me - it's a common knowledge fallacy.  


You can still be great without primarily playing in the post.  See....Dwight Howard, 2010.

In Topic: Houston Rockets 118, Dallas Mavericks 108: A team effort

21 April 2015 - 12:49 AM

Still stuck in the mud on McHale I see.  By McHale, I mean McHale and staff because I do believe they function as a unit.  All the glory is not his nor all the blame.  Still, despite the decent research I did recently to dispel the myth, I am reading about how he doesn't play young guys.  "It's not a McHale move".  Put simply, that sentence is not true and embodies the myopia only a fan (or in this case non-fan) can muster.


Let's completely ignore that Capela was only on the bench for 25 games this season (12 of which he saw playing time in).  Let's not forget that he is buried behind one of the best front courts in the league.  Let's not forget he wasn't supposed to be here yet.  He still fouls at far too high a rate.  He still looks like a deer in headlights every time the camera catches his face.  He wasn't ready.  Go read what the pros were saying about him over at Draftexpress.com.


Outside of great physical gifts and nice touch around the rim, Capela was not receiving much positive praise.  Bad attitude, poor defense, didn't understand his role/gifts/abilities, thought he should play SF, terrible jump shot, and on and on....up until he had one good showing early 2014 where he started to turn the attitude problems around--the rest is still there.  In one season, the Rockets' staff has had to try and get this guy NBA ready.  He is still too thin, bad at team defense, can't shoot, fouls too much, and so on.  


So, when we set out to make a dig at McHale maybe we should consider context and the big picture versus a falsely contrived version of reality.  Despite all of that, and in the shadow of Motie's injury, Capela played and did pretty well.  Does anyone think he should be playing instead of Motie?


The Rockets are lauded for using their D-League system to develop players and get them the playing time they wouldn't (and shouldn't) receive in the pros.  McHale is chided for being part of that same system.  How is that possible?  Answer: It's not without wearing blinders.


(By the way, Nick Johnson played 28 out of 54 games where he was with the team this season.  He's not ready.  His shooting is horrific.  McHale still squeezed 262 minutes out of him.)


Let's look further back...Canaan played 22 out of 39 games in his rookie year (252 minutes).  He was on a bench with Lin, Beverley, and Brooks.


Let's all stop and recall this was a "draft class" that included the #34 pick (Canaan) and two undrafted projects in Covington (7 out of 15 games) and Daniels (5 out of 10 and 4 out of 6 playoff games).  Not a single bit of first round talent, but apparently McHale should have these guys all over the floor while we are fighting for home court advantage.  I see....interesting strategy....it sounds more like Philly's strategy...and look where 2 of those guys are now.


Going back to 2012-13, T-Rob played 19 out of 24.  T-Jones played 19 out of 43.  D-Mo played 44 out of 70.  Now remember they all play the same position and Marcus Morris and Patrick Patterson were on the roster to start the season.


For all the Spurs people, do try to remember the post (and research) I did showing they almost exclusively draft older players, with pro experience, that can step into NBA minutes in their "rookie" year--and most still see limited time.  Kawhi is an outlier people.


For comparison, Papanikolaou (an older, seasoned Euro vet) received 20 DNP's this season, but did play in 43 games for 800 minutes.  It's not difficult to understand...unless one simply does not want to.  Do try to remember, he is playing behind Jones, Motie, and Smith.  Does anyone think Papa is better than any of those 3 guys?


Not a McHale move, given his track record......tell me, what does that even mean?  Am I looking at the wrong track?  :unsure:

You're kind of arguing a strawman there, Johnny.  The point wasn't that Capela should have been playing all along - I myself didn't think he was ready.  The point was simply surprise that a young player who had barely played--regardless of the reason--was now playing in the postseason.  

In Topic: Houston Rockets 118, Dallas Mavericks 108: A team effort

20 April 2015 - 12:14 AM

New post: Some thoughts on Game 1 of Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks
By: Rahat Huq

  • I'm pretty much still shocked that we saw Capela instead of Dorsey last night, because it's not a McHale move, given his track record.  We screamed collectively last year just to give Motiejunas even a look when no one on this team could cover LaMarcus Aldridge, and that didn't happen.  And don't tell me it's because Motiejunas sucked last year.  He had made huge strides defensively, even coming in to slow down Zach Randolph in one particular game.  So when I saw Capela come off the bench for the usual Dorsey minutes, my jaw dropped.  It just made too much sense.  It's not so much the shot-blocking that gives him an edge over Dorsey but rather the fact that he's not a complete zero on the offensive end.  He can actually kind of finish and was serving as a target on some of the same plays the team was running for Howard.
  • Speaking of Dwight, we see now why people have been literally begging him to roll to the hoop and abandon the post ever since he left Orlando.  When he plays in that way, he's still one of the most dominant forces in the game for the simple reason that he draws so much attention from the defense.  When Dwight is in the post, while he may score here and there, he's almost just as likely to turn the ball over, and the rest of the team is standing around.  Don't believe me?  Check the numbers.  Even if Dwight doesn't complete the lob, the team is almost always guaranteed to at least get some kind of high percentage look because he's sucking so much of the help away from wherever the ball is.  Had Dwight not gotten into foul trouble last night, that game would have been a blow-out.  Orlando didn't just go to the Finals with Dwight rolling to the hoop by accident.
  • On that point, maybe this is a turning point?  Maybe Dwight has actually bought in?  He had some postup touches with Harden sitting, but maybe everything he said in an earlier interview with USA Today wasn't just lip service?  We can only hope.
  • I've been saying for some time that I think Hakeem might be the worst thing to have ever happened to Dwight Howard.  Sometimes you need someone to tell you the truth, not to enable you.  Hakeem put, or reinforced in Dwight's mind that he can dominate in the paint and that all great big men dominate in the paint.  In reality, Dwight was dominant already, playing as he had been.
  • Nice rebound from Terrence Jones last night, after being maybe the worst player on the court last year against Portland.  Shows how far he has come this season.

In Topic: Memphis Grizzlies 102, Houston Rockets 100: I’m not saying it was the refs…

05 March 2015 - 02:21 PM

New post: A night of basketball on March 5: The non-call, Terrence Jones, and the Caanaanball
By: Rahat Huq

First off, if you haven't yet, check out Episode 72 of The Red94 Podcast where Richard Li and I delved into some of the data pertaining to the team.  We looked at bench usage, crunch time effectiveness, and, of course, Dwight Howard postups.


Now, to turn your attention to the real topic of the moment:



It hurts to go down like this in such an important game, with the 2 seed on the line.  (Yes, I get that #3 is probably more favorable at this point, but for bragging rights, it's the 2 seed man!  We haven't finished that high since I was in middle school.)  And it was clearly a foul, as shown above.  But what's the use?  It happened, we'll take our apology from the league and I guess wear it proudly in the standings?  But I guess the greater issue is the ramifications.  As Paul mentioned in the recap, there isn't much evidence of a downtick in foul calls overall in the postseason.  But close and late?  One would have to imagine there would be a greater aversion to blowing the whistle for contact in the paint.  Fortunately, Harden has spent all season perfecting the art of the mid-range.  I was actually surprised he drove it in last night on that play.


It hurt to lose, but you can think of this loss, and the one against Atlanta, (as well as the win over the Cavs), in one of two ways.  First, we actually hung with or beat three of the top teams in the league, without Dwight Howard.  Actually, when you throw in wins over the likes of the Clippers, we've demonstrated an ability to compete with just about everyone in the league, save for Golden State, without Dwight.  That bodes well for the future, if factoring in Dwight's inevitable return.  On the flip side, you could argue that we might not ever get the real Dwight Howard back, and if he insists on murking things up in the halfcourt with his postups, there will be an overall loss in the aggregate.  We'll just have to see how it plays out when he comes back.  Houston could've desperately used Dwight's size inside last night in the paint to contend with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.  But do they score as freely as they have been if a reduced version of Dwight is in there instead of Terrence Jones and Motiejunas?  We saw an extreme example of this late in the game last night where a lineup featuring James Harden at power forward was so offensively overwhelming that it surged the team back into the game.  As I said yesterday in the podcast, the best thing Dwight Howard can do for the Rockets, aside from getting healthy, is to embrace becoming Tyson Chandler.  I'm not holding my breath.


2.  Look at Terrence Jones' last six games: 15 and 15, 14 and 8, 26 and 12, 19 and 7, 18 and 8, and 21 and 9.  At just 23 years old, he's looking like a budding All-Star, taking a step even beyond the colossal step he took last season.  We see now that he's scoring, even without Dwight, and against the best teams in the league, a valuable development over last season.  (While his splits with Dwight off the court were stellar, Jones did not fare well against the league's top teams).  Kevin McHale isn't having to go small to close every game anymore (and although he did last night, it wasn't at the sacrifice of Jones).  The big question now will be whether Jones can consistently defend the paint against the top 4's in the Western Conference.  I wanted to trade Jones, most notably for Goran Dragic, but in hindsight, perhaps Houston dodged a bullet?  It might be premature to go that far as Dragic is of course coming off an all-NBA season, but if Jones continues this trajectory, his loss would've been tough to swallow in the event Dragic walked in free agency.  Especially with Dwight Howard's future up in the air.  But with Josh Smith and Motiejunas already holding down the fort, maybe a point guard would do more in the short term?  That leads us to point #3.





I wrote the day of the trade that if I could ask Kevin McHale just one question, it would be about Isaiah Canaan.  What exactly happened leading up to the banishment of a player who in theory, seemed to have every tool this team was craving for in a point guard?  There are those of course who will point to Russell Westbrook's stat line last night, or rough nights yet to come for Canaan.  But that's missing the point entirely.  While I thought Canaan could one day start, that's not what this team needed.  They just needed a guy to come in and give them 15-20 minutes a night of playmaking and accurate shooting from the point guard position.  Canaan could have fit that role to a tee, if given the chance.  Instead, the Rockets traded him for a guy who, while in theory was an exciting acquisition, will probably never see the light of day.  With Houston in contention for the 2 seed, in maybe the most brutal conference in league history, without Dwight Howard, it's tough to find fault with Kevin McHale's coaching these days.  But after Lowry, and now Canaan, a disturbing trend seems to have evolved surrounding McHale and his point guards.  We don't know exactly what happened, but given the facts on the face of things, the speculation seems to add up.  Maybe the tight ship McHale runs, while alienating his generals, has directly contributed to the team overachieving in every regular season since he's been here.  If that's the case, shedding a few bad apples who don't want to buy in was certainly defensible.  But from what we know, which is nothing, aside from the fact that Isaiah Canaan is a baller and we let him go for nothing, the entire episode seems curious.  You're telling me a team running the worst point guard unit of any playoff team in the league couldn't make use of 20 minutes a game of that kind of firepower (shown above)?  Really?


In Topic: Time to Look at This Year's Bench

04 March 2015 - 09:43 PM

New post: Updated Bench Data
By: Richard Li

[caption id="attachment_14649" align="aligncenter" width="274"]Click for a full-sized interactive version Click for a full-sized interactive version[/caption]


Time to see how the Rockets bench usage and performance has changed since the additions of Smith, Brewer, et al. Usage has increased a little bit from 34% to 35% since mid-January. Effectiveness has increased a bit more, from a -0.8 net rating to a 1.8 net rating. While the usage is still 3rd to last, the Rockets are now ahead of seven other teams who are tied for 2nd to last and last place. The net rating now puts the Rockets above the NBA bench average.


Worth noting is the overall increase in bench usage across the NBA. In late 2013, when I first started keeping track of this data, the NBA average for bench usage was a shade above 35%. It is now barely below 38%. Given the emphasis on player health over the past two seasons, this shouldn't be too surprising.


Also worth noting is how a team like the Golden State Warriors (I admit sometimes I reference them solely for the purpose of pissing off Rahat) has adjusted. In December 2013, they were dead last in the league with a 28% bench usage. Their bench's net rating was -2.7. That season I wrote that they were so dependent on their starters that a single injury would spell disaster. Then Bogut got hurt and I felt vindicated. Fast forward to this season. The Warriors now play their bench 38% of the time, slightly above league average. Their bench is also the second most effective in the league with a net rating of 5.9. Clearly there are several other factors contributing to the Warriors' recent success, but I think this is one of them. More importantly for them, it also predicts greater sustainability later in the season.


The Rockets have certainly improved in this regard, but can probably still do more given how deep the team has become. In last night's game sans Harden and Howard, the Rockets only played eight men. Each starter played at least 32 minutes. Notably, KJ McDaniels didn't play at all. It seemed like a pretty golden opportunity for him to stretch his legs and gain confidence against a quality opponent. Some old habits just seem to have a hard time dying.